Non-essential stores are now open but what does this mean for retail?

By Harriet A on 19 June 2020

As non-essential shops opened in the UK on Monday, the media was flooded with pictures of people queuing outside. However, with the Covid-19 pandemic still continuing, what does this really mean for the opening of these retail stores?

Financial impact of Covid-19

A study by YouGov found that a majority of Britons say the pandemic has caused a big impact on their spending and financial security - over a third (36%) say their savings have taken a hit and a similar number (35%) say their income has gone down.

Whilst people have been spending less overall, the categories that saw an increase during lockdown were groceries, alcohol and forms of entertainment such as digital streaming services and books. Products such as clothes and beauty products saw a decrease, so now that stores selling these items are open, how can they encourage people to visit their store and spend their money?

To lure in shoppers, most retail stores are offering bargain prices to shift old stock, which will incentivise many who have felt the pinch over the last couple of months. However, despite the attraction of in store sales, safety will also play a big role in consumers attitudes towards visiting these shops.

Social distancing

Despite seeing many people rushing to visit the newly open non-essential stores, a recent survey by YouGov found that 39% of respondents still think it’s too soon for these shops to be opening. When asked, which places they would feel most comfortable visiting, the majority indicated garden centres and pub gardens. With these kinds of places both offering outdoor spaces and more room to social distance, this demonstrates that safety is still a big concern for people. Despite the safety precautions indoor retail outlets are putting in place, just 48% of Brits think they will be able to keep two metres away from other shoppers.

It is still early days for non-essential retail shops, and if these businesses can prove that they are able to create a safe shopping experience, with the lure of discounted products then they are likely to see a bigger increase in footfall. It will be interesting to see if this will be enough to deter people away from e-commerce, which for the majority has become the normal way to shop during lockdown.

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